An Addis classic. There to be guiltily enjoyed

Hilton Addis Ababa architecture

Luxury hotels proliferate now but the Hilton has served Addis since 1969. It  takes time to appreciate the architecture which initially appears like a lump of concrete but glows pink in the fading sunlight. Notches in the facade were designed to emulate the tiny windows within the rock churches of Lalibela. The famous pool is shaped like a cross.

Presidents, Hollywood stars, despots and celebrities have all passed through over the years. Some say it’s full of gangsters; at other times the foyer is full of Addis intelligentsia sporting Afro’s and gliding across the marble floor in their heels.

Hilton Addis Ababa foyer
The Hilton foyer. Nice. Note the Lalibela inspired wall above reception.

LOCATION

No-one walks to the Hilton so it doesn’t really matter where it is. Pass through the men in suits at the security barrier in your Mercedes or four by four.

If you must walk, various other international hotels are nearby in order to rub shoulders with similar types.

ROOMS

Identikit rooms that could be anywhere in the world.

Very comfortable in a beige kind of way. No dodgy fittings. Everything done to an international standard.

One of the few places where you don’t have to enquire if there is a bath plug.

STAFF

Mostly warm and professional.  Reception were especially slick.  Cleaners were giving free parenting advice in the corridor – very sweet with my son but I usually arrived at our room with the usual mum failure feeling.

Looked a bit weary after the popular Sunday buffet had finished but they had recovered by Monday morning.

Cocktails at Hilton Addis

FACILITIES

Where to start? The famous spring water pool, playground, tennis and basket ball courts, spa, cocktail bar, shops, Ethiopian airlines, bank etc etc etc.

Amazing wood panelled paintings by Ethio Armenia artist Alexander Skunder Boghossian in the lobby.

You could stay here for a week and not bother going out.

Hilton Addis Skunder Boghossian
Detail of wall panel by Alexander Skunder Boghossian

FOOD

Poolside restaurant downstairs and buffet restaurant just off the lobby.

The Sunday lunchtime barbecue is excellent. Otherwise the kitchen holds no real surprises, good or bad. This hotel could do with a decent a la carte restaurant.

Ongoing coffee ceremony in the lobby, presided over by a rather stern woman unimpressed by my 4 year old’s interest in blowing out her charcoal stove.

Sunday lunch at The Hilton
Sunday lunch barbeque buffet

PRICE

Variable: we got a ‘friends and family deal’ from someone which made us feel sheepish when reception made smooth comments thanking us for our loyalty (neither me nor my husband have stayed at a Hilton, ever).  £153/night on Expedia right now for a double room but I have seen deals for around £100.

Check if the rates include taxes which can be up to 25%.

IDIOSYNCRACIES

Pool is emptied periodically for several days at a time for cleaning which happened to us.  Annoying but I guess I prefer that than a dirty pool.

Other than that, none really.

Hilton Addis poolside bar
Poolside bar area

RECOMMENDED FOR:

Those who are not coping with Ethiopia.

Those who cannot afford the Sheraton.

The warm pool waters when possible.

GOOD FOR

Spotting government ministers and their bodyguards.

Hilton Addis Ababa garden

See also

It’s The Sheraton Addis but can it heal a broken heart?

Abbaba’s Villa: Addis’s most stylish hotel

The Taitu: a hotel with history

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